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What is Cinco de Mayo? Know the meaning of the holiday of May 5th

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Cinco de Mayo is one of the most famous Mexican holidays in the United States. Then people look for half-price margaritas and feast on Mexican food.

But Cinco de Mayo — which means “Fifth of May” in Spanish — isn’t actually about burritos and beer. And although it is celebrated in Mexico, it is not as deeply ingrained in the country's culture as it is in the United States.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where the historic Battle of Puebla took place. It commemorates the Mexican victory over the French Empire on May 5, 1862. However, it is often misunderstood as Mexico's Independence Day, celebrated on September 16.

Despite its importance in Mexican history, Cinco de Mayo has greater significance in the United States, but why? Here's everything you need to know about Cinco de Mayo.

What is Cinco de Mayo and why is it celebrated?

Mexican Independence Day, or Día de la Independencia, took place on September 16, 1810, when the country freed itself from Spanish rule.

Cinco de Mayo came more than 50 years later, when French Emperor Napoleon III. wanted to claim Mexico for themselves.

The French sent troops to expel Mexican President Benito Juárez and the government from Veracruz. At daybreak on May 5, 1862, in a small town in eastern Mexico called Puebla, 2,000 Mexican soldiers faced 6,000 French troops. Incredibly, Mexico achieved victory that evening and Juárez declared May 5 a national holiday.

The battle also played a role in the American Civil War. With the French defeated and leaving North America, the Confederacy was unable to use them as allies to win the war.

What did Mexico gain from Cinco de Mayo?

The victory at the Battle of Puebla was a significant morale boost for the Mexicans. The French army, then one of the most powerful in the world, tried to gain a foothold in Mexico. According to History.com, Zaragoza and his troops defeated the much larger and better equipped French army led by General Charles de Lorencez.

The victory delayed the French advance toward Mexico City and gave the Mexican government time to prepare for further attacks.

The victory also had international implications as it showed that the French army was not invincible. This had an indirect impact on the American Civil War as it allowed Napoleon III. from supporting the Confederacy. This support could have changed the outcome of this war.

Despite the importance of the Battle of Puebla, the French victory there did not end the French occupation of Mexico.

From whom did Mexico gain its independence?

Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The Mexican War of Independence began on September 16, 1810, when priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla delivered the famous “Grito de Dolores,” a call to arms for the Mexican people to rise up against Spanish colonial rule.

After over a decade of fighting, Mexico finally gained independence on September 27, 1821, when the Treaty of Córdoba was signed, officially ending Spanish rule in Mexico.

More: How Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo

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Why is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in the USA?

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the United States and Mexico, but it is a much more important holiday in the United States

While there are Cinco De Mayo celebrations throughout Mexico, particularly in the city of Puebla, the event cannot be compared to the Día de la Independencia celebrations.

The reasons for its popularity in the USA are varied.

The celebration of Cinco de Mayo began as a form of resistance to the effects of the Mexican-American War in the late 19th century. The holiday gained popularity during the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Cinco de Mayo is heavily commercialized in the United States, particularly by the food and beverage industry, which promotes it as a day to enjoy Mexican food and drinks.

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